As the longtime owner of Kitty Hawk Watersports, I can tell you from experience that the Outer Banks offers great fishing. For the record, I consider myself a horrible fisherman. But, on the bright side, the Outer Banks can occasionally make me feel like a pro.
My First Taste of Success
When I first moved to the Outer Banks, my wife bought me a fishing rod as a gift. I figured that if I’m going to live by the ocean, I may as well enjoy some fishing. The first time I used my new toy was pretty interesting. Just before sunset, I rode my bike to the beach to look around. When I got to the Kitty Hawk Pier, it looked like the ocean was boiling. Fishermen were scrambling in and out of the surf, pulling out bluefish one after the other. An Outer Banks Bluefish Blitz. I hopped on my bike and sprinted home. Returning with my fishing rod, I scrambled to get a lure on. On my first cast, SNAP! I forgot to open the bailer. Five bucks down the drain as my lure went sailing into the ocean untethered to my reel. Second cast, WHAM! Fish on.
I caught a few more fish before it got too dark, but I had experienced the thrill!
Ways to Fish
In 22 years on the Outer Banks, I’ve experienced just about every way you can fish here, except spearfishing (because I’m a chicken sh**).
Surf– I remember when it used to be free. Now you need a permit. To me, standing on the beach, barefoot in the warm water, is my favorite way to fish on the Outer Banks. Simple and serene. No stress of a boat and very inexpensive. You probably won’t catch anything huge, but it’s a great way to relax on the beach.
Pier– Entrance fee required, but you don’t need a permit. Piers usually increase your chances of catching fish because of location and the presence of people willing to help you out. They usually have everything you need, including rod rentals. Affordable, but it can get crowded.
Sound– Usually more successful with a boat and you’ll want to fish around a large structure, such as a bridge. (Fish love underwater structures.) I’ve had plenty of success trolling around the Wright Memorial Bridge and the old Mann’s Harbor Bridge.
Kayak– This is typically done on the sound side. Kayaks are stealthy and can get into shallow waters, making more places accessible.
Spearfish– This is the one thing I haven’t tried because I’m a chicken sh**. I know people that will free-dive wrecks and other structures, and have great success. High risk, high reward. Needs: training, being comfortable changing your position on the food chain, a buddy to dive with.
Bridges– There are a few bridges on the Outer Banks that you can fish from (little bridge on the Nags Head Causeway and The Herbert Bonner Bridge), and they can be very rewarding. Cons- vehicle noise.
Head boat– If you don’t have a boat and you want to get the experience of fishing, a head boat (a vessel-for-hire engaged in recreational fishing that is hired on a per person basis) is a great way to get out on the water. This is a great, affordable way to get the family on the water. A mate will help you bait your hook and remove the catch. Check out the Miss Oregon Inlet.
Near-shore– Have a private party and want to get more serious? Near-shore trips are typically half-day and will go where the fish are. These are typically charter boats that hold up to six passengers, and that fish the sounds or just outside the inlets.
Off-shore– Now we’re getting real serious. Get a private party of no more than six, and a captain and mate will take you to the edge of the Gulf Stream for a day of fishing for tuna, marlin, wahoo, mahi-mahi, etc.
Fun on the Water
To learn more about fishing on the Outer Banks, contact Kitty Hawk Watersports at (252) 441-2756. We offer jet ski, sailboat, surfboard, SUP, kayak, and bike rentals at great prices. You can also get information by calling one of the marinas or stopping by bait and tackle shops, such as TWs or Bob’s Bait and Tackle.
John Van Lunen